Human Anatomy students attend to the mind, body … and spirit

Graduate students in the DPT and Physician Assistant Studies programs met in January with Elon's chaplain to reflect on the lives of men and women who are now human donors in the university's anatomy lab.

Students from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and the Physician Assistant Studies master’s program visited with University Chaplain Jan Fuller on Jan. 28 in the Sacred Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion, a meeting that has become a tradition at the start of Human Anatomy curriculum for both programs in the School of Health Sciences.

Faculty said the purpose of the meeting is to prepare students for the spiritual and psychological aspects of human donor dissection.

The School of Health Sciences anatomy faculty – Janet Cope, Traci Little and Cindy Bennett – said they believe in the need for students to appreciate the spiritual component of their human donor dissection experience. 

Fuller asked that students in some way acknowledge and honor the gift of donation, always mindful that the human donors with whom they work have loved ones who are likely still grieving their loss. 

She also asked students to be fully aware during this journey, to acknowledge the excitement for learning and the weight of the responsibility required to care for a non-living colleague, and to ask for support when needed in order to care for themselves. 

“You will be learning from these bodies, these people, so that you can help in the healing of your future patients.  In essence, this is an example of death in the service of life,” Fuller said. “This Sacred Space and Numen Lumen Pavilion is here for you, as am I, my colleagues, your colleagues, and your teachers.”

– Information provided by Janet Cope, associate professor of physical therapy education